A simple approach to define Holocene sequence stratigraphy using borehole and cone penetration test data


  • Michael Styllas

    1. Department of Physical and Environmental Geography, School of Geology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, University Campus, Thessaloniki, Greece
    Current affiliation:
    1. Geoservice Ltd, Panorama, Thessaloniki, Greece
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Cone penetration testing has been widely used since the 1950s for determining the subsurface geotechnical conditions of unconsolidated sediments. This paper highlights the potential value of cone penetration testing as an aid to define the stratigraphic structure of Holocene sedimentary deposits. By calibrating cone penetration test logs with adjacent borehole logs and by utilizing all the available information produced during geotechnical surveying, stratigraphic models that accurately describe the vertical and lateral boundaries, as well as the stacking pattern, of Late Quaternary systems can be constructed. The widespread application and technical simplicity of cone penetration testing, combined with simple data interpretation via correlation with adjacent borehole logs, yield a useful and inexpensive tool for sedimentological investigations. This methodology is illustrated using data from 36 cone penetration tests and 11 boreholes on the Holocene deltaic plain of the Aliakmon River, Greece. Sedimentological and stratigraphic information from core log correlations, the spatial distribution of cone penetration test parameters, sediment grain size and per cent concentration of organic matter are utilized. The results suggest, that in sequence stratigraphic terms, the delta is divided into a lowstand systems tract composed by fluvial gravels and sands (U0) of Late Pleistocene age, as well as from red oxidized clays, and a transgressive systems tract represented by fluvial channel sands (U1), overlain by a thin transgressive sand sheet of coastal origin (U2), characterized by fining upward trends. The highstand systems tract is constituted by a variety of stratigraphic units (U3 to U7) and depositional environments, characterized by coarsening upward sequences, representing both aggradational and progradational facies, and dominated by the presence of three prograding wedges. Detailed definition of the thickness, vertical boundaries and stacking pattern of the resolved stratigraphic units, presented as a two-dimensional stratigraphic model, demonstrates the applicability of the proposed method.